City loosens concealed-carry rules for parks

Oct. 10, 2013 @ 05:27 PM

People with permits to carry concealed handguns can now take them to High Point’s parks and recreation facilities — with some exceptions.
The City Council this week unanimously adopted an ordinance amendment to comply with a new state law that allows concealed-carry weapons in public recreation areas.
The law, which went into effect Oct. 1, was part of a measure adopted by the N.C. General Assembly that lets permit holders take concealed firearms into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol and store them in locked cars on the campus of any public school or university.
Under the ordinance change, concealed handguns now are allowed at playgrounds and picnic shelters in city parks and on the city’s greenway and golf courses, as well as other recreation sites.
Permit holders don’t have complete freedom to carry concealed firearms in all city parks and recreation locations, however.
The law allows cities and counties to continue banning concealed firearms from public buildings, including recreation buildings at parks, swimming pools and at athletic events organized by the city.
That means the weapons are still not allowed at any of the city’s recreation centers, or at pools or playing fields during scheduled events.
Officials said concealed-carry is allowed at outdoor athletic facilities when events are not taking place.
Parks and Recreation Director Allen Oliver said signs are being updated for city facilities explaining the new regulations. He said he’s not sure whether permit holders will start bringing their firearms to parks and recreation sites in any significant numbers.
“I think people will carry more on our greenways and public parks,” Oliver said.
The city’s ordinance still bans firearms other than legal concealed-carry weapons from parks. Concealed-carry users must complete a training and safety course and undergo a background check by their local sheriff to obtain a permit.
“The bottom line is, the people that go get a concealed-carry permit know what their rules are,” said Assistant City Manager Pat Pate. “Everybody else is prohibited from carrying guns in parks.”
The city two years ago banned concealed weapons from its playgrounds, athletic fields, swimming pools and athletic facilities in response to state legislation that allowed them in parks.
That law wasn’t as sweeping as the more recent one, and contained a provision that allowed cities to ban concealed firearms from their parks.